Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween, My Favorite Time of Year

The autumn nights are cooler and there is usually a nice breeze to accompany the All Hallow's Eve parties, loud music and kids going door to door trick-or-treating.  Tonight I am looking out my window at the world passing me by and wondering what am I doing here.  See, usually on Halloween I am with my best friend Jason it is his birthday.  Back in Atlanta there are tons of parties to go to and of course I know everybody.  To be honest this is the first Halloween in years that I haven't dressed up and done something cool with my friend.  I have several other friends that have their birthday on this very night, it has been a long time since I got to spend the holiday with them.  But I will never forget how I met James and his brother Jason that are born on October 31st. I had gone to Dallas to hang with another best friend that lived with me in Florida.  We all got dressed up and went to this huge party and I had a blast. I fell in love with Dallas that very night and have been back a few times since then.  The great thing is that after all these years I have still kept in touch with James and Jason a great pair of guys, totally opposites for twins, but really cool to hang out with.  I also have another friend named Tony that lives in Atlanta and today is also his birthday.  So I guess tonight you could say that I am feeling rather homesick and that I wish I was there with my friends to celebrate and have a good time.

Tonight it is cool here on Daytona Beach but there is a full moon that I am watching as I type this.  I am wondering what all of my friends are up too.  I wonder if they know how much I miss each one of them, and how I am thinking about them on this very night.  How I am hoping and praying that whatever they are doing that they are safe and having a great time.  But I also have another wish for all of my friends that I mentioned above, I hope they all find and hold on to the love that is looking desperately to find them, and that their whole year is blessed with Joy and Laughter.  Life is too short for all the stress and angst the world wants to through at us.  It helps to swallow the bitter with a bit of humor if you ask me.  But my wish is also that they find success in their endeavors and fortune in love and be surrounded by friends and loved ones that are supportive of their choices and opinions.  Each of us needs to have a network to fall back on, and we need that group to be unconditional in the support of our endeavors, our goals and will be willing to help us reach our dreams.

Halloween is symbolic of many things.  They say that the veil between the world's thin and that it is a night that the dead can come back to life, or commune with the living. But it also the end of a season and heralds a time of renewing and rebirth.  See it is the autumn that is the time when life has shut down and it goes dormant for a period, regains strength and purpose, so that when spring returns it can burst forth with fresh growth and new life.  It is a time of renewal and regeneration. To let go of the past and move forward.  Of course it is also a night that kids around the world get to go out in costume and get candy. But it is time for winding down in the world.  Even in Corporate and State business it is a time of winding down. Budgets are coming to a close and executives are diligently trying to get the new years budgets done and submitted for approval.  It is also the coming of the holidays, for the next several months there are many holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  So even the mighty corporations and conglomerates are showing signs of slowing down.  Funny how we humans mimic the cycles of nature and follow the rest and hibernating cycles of the earth.

But the reason why it is my favorite holiday and time of year is because it is a juxtaposition, summer has begun to leave us, and autumn hasn't fully gotten it's hold on the world yet, the leaves are exploding in vibrant colors and are still on the trees, and the colder temperatures haven't exactly crept upon us and robbed us of the warmth.  The days are still warm and the nights cool, and it is a time of festivity and revelry.  It is time when we can get out and dress up and be something that we normally aren't.  It is a time when we can actually be 100 percent honest to the true self that resides in each of us. With our masks on and costumes we can cut up and be the carefree spirits we were meant to be.  Instead of the dull suits that work in the office Monday thru Friday, or the school teach stuck in a classroom 9 hours a day, or the bus driver that doesn't say a word unless spoken too or incident occurs.  It is a time when we can reach out an explore the side of ourselves that we keep repressed and hidden from the world to see.  It is also a time of celebration and gathering with friends to have parties and spend some time with others.

So what are you doing this very Halloween Night?  I know that I am sitting here writing to you, because unfortunately as I stated above, I am home sick, lonely and on top of that I am really not feeling all that well.  But my well wishes go out to my friends and the ones I love whose very special day it is and who I am unable to spend my time with.  I hope that they are all safe and having a great night.  I do know that at least one of them is at home celebrating alone...So from my heart to yours..enjoy that glass of wine and know that I was thinking about you and sending you my warmest wishes and best hopes.

I love everyone of you guys...I love you my readers and friends and I hope that you begin to enjoy Halloween like I have for the past 20 years.  Get out there and experience life.  Because the cycle of hibernation and rest is about to befall is the last fun time you have before the drudgery of the holidays and endless lines of bickering people in the stores.  Take the time now, because you aren't going to get it later.

Happy Halloween to All!  Happy Birthday James, Jason, Jason (Sa'corey), and Tony!  Have a great night and a glorious rest of the week and a most Excellent year!

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Have you ever done something that hurt someone else but you didn't mean for it too?

I am sure we all have done something at one point in our lives or another that has hurt another individual but that wasn't the original intention behind the action.  So what do you do to make the situation better?  Honestly there may not be anything that you can do. The damage is done, the person's feeling are hurt, they feel betrayed, and their fragile trust has been injured or possibly even broken.  So how do you proceed and act?  The simple answer here is you might have to abide by their wishes and take a break from them and the situation for a little while. Give them a chance for the wounds to heal before you try and approach them again.  Because no matter what you do or say to mend the situation may just probably end up making it a lot worse.  I am sure that we have addressed something along these lines before.  Remember when a person is feeling hurt and vulnerable nothing you say or can do is ever going to be heard by that person. They are so focused on the pain of the incident that the extraneous information you are trying to rationalize or justify the action with is lost totally on them and they don't care. All they feel is the slight and hurt that has wounded them.

In most cases like this one I would say that time the great equalizer is what is going to either lessen the pain enough for them to be able to talk to you about it, or gives them enough room that allows them to heal and re-evaluate the situation.  However, keep in mind that some wounds might never heal totally.  They maybe scabbed over, and you coming around them might cause that to rip off and them once again to feel the pain and sting of the original incident.  Give the other person as much time and space as they need to heal and let them come back to you on their terms.  We all know how if a wound doesn't heal properly it can become infected and might cause greater complications down the road.  Word wounds can be just like that they can linger, and if they are left to fest or are continually irritated they can spread and cause a person to build up resentment and anger, and lash out at you at inappropriate times.  Let the other person heal, let them assess the damage done and let them decide if they can take the risk of coming back around you.

I know this is hard, you have a burning desire to make the situation better right away, you want to go in and explain yourself, defend your actions and prove that you meant no harm, that something was misinterpreted that your intentions were pure, but it isn't about you any longer. It is about them and the hurt they are feeling or the perceived injury they have experienced and was caused by you.  As I have said earlier trust is a very fragile thing, it is something that is built up between two people over time, and if it is hurt or injured in someway, it may never fully recover or heal.  Trust is not something that just happens, it take time and energy to nurture and grow.  So be very careful with it, treat it right and it will surprise you at it tenacity and capacity to forgive once the injured party has time to process and reflect on what has happened.  Time is the only true cure that can help someone.  Plus, you have to keep in mind that they might have been hurt like this before by someone else and your action caused an old wound to reopen, they might be dealing with that on top of the hurt that you unintentionally inflicted upon them.

Scars are funny things, they are not always visible but are always there, they are carried around and can reopen at any time.  Scars become a part of a person, some are seen, some are not.  They are what a person has gone through in their past and it has become a part of them.  When you except a person as a friend or more, you get the whole person, the good, the bad, the hurt, the scars, the baggage of the past, and only through exploration can you begin to discover how deep these old hurts and scars maybe.  You just have to be careful and be frugal with your heart and trust. It can be easily be betrayed without it ever meaning too.  But you also need to give the other person the benefit of the doubt.  They may not know you all that well, couldn't possibly have any idea of what you have been through or are going through.  Their actions might have seemed harmless to them, but caused you a great deal of hurt.  Sometimes, in the thick of things words are spoken that weren't meant. You may have to take sometime and divorce your emotions from the situation and come at it from a purely logical standpoint and truly assess the intentions of the individual.  Don't through a good friendship away on a simple mistake.

Both sides need to take time and heal. Both parties need to understand that the other person made a mistake that was all and no harm was intended .  No matter which side you are on, take the time to calmly and logically review the situation and make amends.  Don't let anger and resentment fester within, get it all out in the open, express how you feel and then, revisit the situation once everything has died down and you can come at it from a logical standpoint.  Life is too short to stay angry or hurt at a person you regard as a friend.  Take all the time you need, but I encourage you to reassess the situation, look at the damage that is done, and make amends.  No one is so important that they can't have more friends, and life is way too short and delicate to be angry at someone that truly meant no harm and didn't know that their actions were going to cause you pain.

Those of you who know me know that I don't have a mean bone in my body, I don't hide or harbor malice in my heart, and if my actions have caused someone else pain, then I am the type of person to try and make amends, try to heal the breach, and repair the damage that has been done, but sometimes it is out of our hands and we have to let nature, time and God work out the issue for us. Because nothing I do or say would make the situation any better and could possibly and quite probably make the situation worse I have to walk away and let time and God heal the wound.

Please keep this in mind, we cannot undo those things in the past, we can only learn and grow from the mistakes we make. The lessons that we learn through loss and pain are the ones that stick with us forever.  Be honest with yourself and you will be true to your heart. You know that each of us is human and that we all make mistakes and fall.  But handle that fall with grace and dignity, lift your head and get up again. Keep going don't give up.  Don't fall prey to depression, guilt and anger, because you know in your heart that harm or malice was never intended and the other party will learn that in time too.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

What are some Suicidal Warning Signs?

Over the past couple of days I have been talking to you about Suicide.  We talked about what it means to be a Gatekeeper, how to be an attentive listener, and then we went over some of the risk factors that can possibly contribute to someone contemplating or even committing suicide.  Today I want to take the discussion a little bit further and talk to you about some of the warning signs that you should be aware of and looking and listening for when talking with a person that is depressed and could possibly be at risk for suicide.  Remember it is always better to be safe than sorry, and it is good to ask as many questions as you can to get to the heart of the matter and really understand what the person is going through and experiencing.  Keep in mind that just by listening and demonstrating that you are someone that cares you may just be saving someone's life.

Do you remember the other day when I told you that the two biggest factors or risks are the feelings of hopelessness and depression?  What you might not realize is that these two things go hand in hand.  They act upon a persons mind in such away that they cannot think or see clearly and they begin to feel trapped.  Every problem, emotion and crisis because larger and even harder to manage much less handle.  Depression alone can make a person feel like they aren't capable of dealing with the issue, it robs them of clarity of mind and purpose and certainly can make a small problem or issue seem like an insurmountable mountain. Now, throw in the sense of hopelessness and you will find a person that is paralyzed, looking for a way out but cannot seem to see a light in the darkness anywhere.  Hopelessness + Depression = Suicidal Risk.

In this article I am making the assumption that the person you are talking too is someone that you know or might have known, which is why they have decided to speak with you regarding what they are feeling and going through, though this might not always be the case.  So when I am discussing potential warning signs, I am going to be trying to speak in general terms.  Behaviors that you may have personally observed or might have been told about during your conversation.   Keep in mind that if this isn't someone that you know or see on a regular basis you might have to ask some invasive questions to get the answers you are looking for. However, if this is someone that you know well, or have a good deal of contact with you may have picked up some of these warning signs through casual observation, but you still need to explore them and ask questions to make sure that you haven't made an assumption or jumped to the wrong conclusion about something.  So here we go, here are some suicidal warning signs that you should be aware of and looking for either by direct observation or through your casual conversation.

Has there been an uncharacteristic decline in job performance or school attendance?  Do they seem isolated and withdrawn from you or other people?  Have you noticed or has there been any change in behavior or personality?  Keep in mind this can be positive or negative behavior, you cannot tell by looking at a person alone and tell if they are feeling suicidal.  Is there emotional or mental state of highs and lows?  Moodiness?  Has there been any change to their sleeping or eating habits?  People who are depressed and or feeling hopeless may not be able to shut down their mind at night, it keeps racing over all of their problems and situations and they can't shut down to sleep.  Has there been an increase in agitation?  Always angry or lashing out at others?  Have the begun to exhibit behaviors of acting out?  As I prefaced this part earlier these maybe signs that you being around the person you have noticed.  If you are not always around this person or have much interaction with them you may have to get them to open up to you, you have to ask them questions like the ones listed above to draw them out.  Here are some other things to look for.  Do they demonstrate or have indicated in some way that they are having trouble concentrating?  Do they feel a low self-worth or are they demonstrating this in some way?  Have you notice them displaying symptoms of being a failure?  Or have they indicated to you that they feel like they are a failure in some way? Has everything thing they have done worked out the way that they had planned?  If it hasn't this can lead them to thinking that they are a failure.  Have you ever tried to accomplish something, taken a step forward, but felt like for the step forward you have gone 5 steps backward at the same time? This also can lead to feelings of failure! Do they say or feel a sense of helplessness?  Demonstrate or express feelings of guilt?  Cry a lot? Or get emotional at the drop of a hat?  Ever talked about or attempted suicide before?

Is there a demonstrated or perceived preoccupation with death? Death-taking or writing about suicide?  Any signs of self-harm or cutting? Self mutilation?  Any open talk of suicide or death?  A demonstrated or perceived notion that they might be getting their affairs in order?  Giving away cherished items unexpectedly? I know it might be hard for you to identify these things if they are not close personal friends of yours.  You may not see them on a regular basis, therefore you are going to have to pry and dig to get to the answers to these questions but as I have said in the previous entries that I have written on suicide you have to have a complete picture.  You cannot just assume that someone is contemplating suicide, you need to be blunt and ask them.  Remember you are not going to push them into committing suicide by asking them about it. You may even draw them into discussion about it and eliminate some of their worry and anxiety about their situation and it may even save their lives.

Here are some factors that you should be on the look out for, these are imminent warning signs.  By imminent I mean they could act at any moment and these are signs that might indicate an immediate action.  If there has been a significant increase of alcohol and drug use. A trend of isolating themselves from friends and family.  They appear to be engaging in behaviors that are risk taking, they lack concern for their safety and they demonstrate no fear when committing them.  An increase of persistent physical complaints, dramatic mood changes and profound lack of concentration, or sudden mood improvement.  During conversations they display expressions of sadness or laughter that are in context of the conversation.  They are acting like they don't have a clue as too what everyone has been talking about.  Keep in mind that if you notice these things that they could be an unconscious cry for help and you should try and pull them aside and talk to them, try to get them to open up about what they are going through, push to find out what they are doing to themselves.  If you have to use pointed and open ended questions to draw them out into conversation. Getting them to talk will if nothing else fill in some of the pieces of the puzzle for you.  However, it might just get them to express themselves enough to cut down their anxiety, dispel their fear that they are alone and might turn the whole situation around.  You would be surprised sometimes how your biggest problems or worries don't seem so big once you begin talking about them and get them out into the open.

The main thing that you have to remember that the right combinations of stress, trouble, sense of being all alone and trapped, make it easy for depression to come into the picture, through in a sense of hopelessness and you have a situation that is ripe for suicide.  As always I encourage you to look at those around you, notice any odd behaviors, whether they are fitting in with others well, are they integrating well with the people and places around them.  Be a conscientious listener, compassionate, demonstrating a genuine concern and regard for them.  Show them that you are there for them and willing to help them.  As I said before, you maybe the only thing standing in this person's way and suicide.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Something to ponder

I had a conversation with a friend this afternoon and it gave me something to think about and address.  I decided to do it here, and it isn't because I think that her stance and outlook is wrong, but because I actually think that light needs to be cast in the darkness, because all things are revealed in the light.  My beliefs are such that I don't care what you do, or how you do it. I don't believe God cares who you were, but who you are and what you can become.  See, I also believe that we are all called to walk on a path that leads us to a closer intimate walk with Him.  Personal beliefs should not play a part in any of it.  The Word of God, our Bible is an inspired work it is the blueprint to a successful life and walk with God. But, it is open to interpretation, and the Holy Spirit works on us as It wills and sees fit.  If we are not continually open and receptive to the teachings of God, then we are not having a close and intimate relationship with Him. Further, I don't think we ever get to a place where we know everything, nor is there a place that we reach when we cannot still be amazed and sight restored to our eyes.

Now, let me explain a bit about the conversation that we had, and understand that I know where she is coming from and I understand, but I also know a different truth, and when I have a chance to readdress this issue I will bring it up. See in Paul's letter to the Romans, there is a section that deals with Homosexuality, and this is the issue that I was asked about today.  For clarification purposes, I include myself in the gay community and consider myself homosexual.  However, I am not a practicing homosexual, because the ability to have sex is something that at this point in my life is not exactly possible.  Due to the surgeries and illnesses that I have been through.  If you need further clarification, please feel free to email me and I will explain in detail.  I believe that the New Testament is where our focus should be today, the Old Testament is the old way, the old covenant between God and Abraham.  Jesus brought with Him the New Testament and a New covenant and that is where we should focus.  Without going into too much detail, I believe that her stance which she explained to me that Homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to God.  I would encourage her to re-read Romans again, because there is something that she missed.

I am not going to go into it here any further than that.  I have to say, that we are called on to love one another, to lead by example, it isn't our job to force anything, especially our beliefs on another.  We are to plant the seed of salvation and let it grow.  We are too love the Sinner but not the Sin.  The greatest commandment that Jesus gave was to love one another.  I believe this with all of my heart.  I am comfortable with who I am and with the choices I have made in my life.  I do not regret the path that I am on for I am truly blessed and favored.  I have seen more answered prayer this year and continually I am experiencing Miracles in my life daily.  God brought me into this persons life for a reason and I am beginning to divine where.  Holiness is something that Grace gives us.  We are all bound by original sin, we cannot escape it. However, we were given a way to Salvation and Victory through Jesus. We are too learn from His suffering, we are to follow His example.  Never once did Jesus turn His back on anyone. His Message was always the same and trust me when I say that 2000 + years later it still hasn't changed.

God created each of us in His image, the Bible also tells us that there is nothing on this Earth that isn't good.  He looked upon the world and all His creations and said they were good.  Each of us is convicted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we are called upon to do the work of the Lord and live our lives as Christlike as we can.  This is very important.  We are not called on to be judges, we are not called upon to look at a person and determine if their way of life or lifestyle is wrong.  We need to understand that God has a plan and a solution for all things, and resolution of the homosexual conflict is there.  You just need to read it and understand.  I am meeting with my friend on Tuesday for breakfast and I am going to take with me the scriptures that I am referring too and will show her what the Word says.  Now we will see what the Lord does, because if I am right about my friend, being open and receptive to the unconditional love of God her eyes will be opened and a new seed will be planted with in her that might show her something she never considered before.

See as long as we are open to receive the word, and study it, we become it, and live it.  As it becomes part of us that which we do becomes the work of the Lord, it is not my actions or deeds, but the movement of the Spirit within me that will shed some light as I said on the darkness and light will grow and blossom.  Even scholars and learned pastors can still learn and grow from the word.  They sometimes just need to be pointed in the right direction.  Love, tolerance, acceptance, are what the world needs today and that should be the message that we are spreading.  If you preach and teach other than that something is terribly wrong.  Because Christ was all about love, forgiveness, understanding and acceptance.  Jesus didn't care who you were, what you did.  He only cared about you and who you are!

Keep that in mind when you are talking to others, we are the light that they see in the world we are what drives the darkness away, and it is through us that the Love of God is revealed on Earth.  The reason why we have to go through the trials and injuries that we are tasked with is for us to learn. Because unfortunately man only learns through pain.  If it doesn't hurt they are going to keep doing it and experiencing it.  Pain is the only true deterrent.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Personal update

It is once again that time for me to give you all an update on my health and status.  I met with the doctors at the VA on Friday to talk about the upcoming surgery and the things that are going to be necessary to get it done.  Found out that I am going to probably have to go to the Tampa VA hospital in order for the surgery to take place because of how complicated my case is.  Because I have to be referred all over the VA system in order for this to happen, it is going to take a little while for all the appointments to come together.  Not to mention that the VA isn't noted for how fast it moves in such cases.  Once this surgery is done and they address the fact that my stoma has started to detach from the abdomen wall then it is on to a 48 week round of chemotherapy.  Now they have to wait till after the surgery because the chemo will affect my clotting ability and my white cell counts, my body will be in a repressed immune state and any invasive procedure after it starts would open me up to infection.

My viral load and T-cells are back to undetectable and normal range for a healthy person, so I am happy that we have that under control. We are finally working on getting the kidney functions back to where they need to be. I have been bouncing back and forth between stage 2 chronic renal disease and stage 3, but the new treatment plan should have that eradicated by the end of next month.  Liver functions are holding their own and the Hep C is not doing any damage thus far.  Overall besides the issues I am having with my colon and abdomen I am doing remarkably well.  I am feeling a lot better.

As most of you are aware I have been in my new place for a little over 2 weeks and things keep falling in line that are helping me with the situation that I am in and I am grateful that I am being so blessed and favored with such goodness.  I have even joined a church home and doing some meaningful work with them and also volunteering some of my time and energy to that cause.  I am still without furniture but have a few things to follow up on that might prove fruitful and help me in that area.

I finally heard from Kerry and Tony both and they are doing well.  Kerry is going to have surgery on Tuesday and I would ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers.  Tony is struggling right now and dealing with a lot of mental and emotional stress and is still out there suffering on the streets. I am hoping that I might be able to help him with that situation soon.  I talked to him for the first time since I came back from Atlanta back in September.  I am so glad to hear form him, I have been really worried I had heard that he was in the hospital and some other things.  Maybe I can finally get him down here and off the street for a little while.

Please read my blog entries on Suicide they are very important to me and I will be rounding out the series with what warning signs to look for and what protective factors we can use to help those that are in crisis.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Who is at Risk for Suicide? Here are some things to look for

On Thursday evening we talked about becoming gate keepers, people who are trained to look for suicidal warning signs and risk factors that might be able to clue them into a persons mental state and be a sign that they are thinking about committing suicide.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that can be present and certain individuals are at higher risk then others.  In this blog entry I want to focus on some risk factors that you may notice when talking to someone that might be an indicator that they are considering or contemplating suicide.  Remember, you cannot tell by looking at a person what their mental state is, so you need to be aware of what they say to you and how they act around you. These could be major clues as to whether or not they are thinking about committing suicide.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Potentially everyone of us is at risk for suicide or suicidal thoughts.  But here are some facts that you should know, these will help you when you are talking to others to feel out what they are trying to say and if they might in fact be a risk for suicide.  How you bring out the information you need is up too you and how you handle the conversation.  But this is what you should be aware of people with previous suicide attempts are more likely to actually go through with it than a person who hasn't.  People suffering from mental disorders, or returning veterans that could be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.  Just keep in mind that not only veterans can have post traumatic stress disorders, so can individuals who have been involved in or through any type of traumatic experience.  Such as rape, car accident, fire, flood, natural disaster, loss of a loved one, etc.  Any type of trauma can trigger the disorder.  It is important that you listen to the person as they are talking to you and be receptive to what they are trying to tell you.  Remember that most people that are contemplating suicide or talking about it don't really want to die, they feel utterly hopeless and trapped and only want their pain to end. So find out all you can about them and the surrounding situation, this will help you assess the risks.  You also need to remember to keep your feelings about suicide out of the conversation, this isn't about you, it is about them and their needs.  They may have different cultural or religious beliefs that may in fact support suicide and that is something you need to be aware of.  Find out if they are ill, illness can bring with it a host of problems and expenses that can overwhelm and individual and leave them feeling vulnerable and trapped with no way out.  Or it could be legal problems, again when a person feels trapped and hopeless, without an escape route depression and suicide can creep in.

It can also become very easy for individuals who think that they are alone and having to face daily stress, such as losing their job, or being bullied at school or even going through physical or mental abuse. Stress can definitely lead to depression, and as I have said before depression and sense of hopelessness are very important factors in suicide.  But, you should also be aware that a person whose family has a history of suicide is definitely at risk and if their family structure changes because of divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, loss of possessions or job, a child, miscarriage and other factors need to be looked at as well.  The more information you can find out about the person and their situation, the better able you are to assess the potential for suicide, offer assistance, and get them the appropriate level of help.  Remember they came to you to talk about their plans and troubles, they didn't go to a therapist, counselor or other mental health professional.  Maybe they can't afford to seek out professional help, or they view you as a friend or because you go to church with them a family member.  Whatever their reasoning it is up too you.  The more you get them talking and digging into the problem, gives you more information, and may even lessen their anxiety level.  Just by you being a compassionate, sincere listener you may just have saved their life. Because once it is all out in the open, they won't feel so weighed down by their problems, and just by talking about it might bring them a different focus or perspective that allows them to think more clearly about the situation or crisis that they are going through.

Life can be overwhelming for anyone, and bills are piling up in this economy, and money just isn't going as far today as it did yesterday.  It is easy to become weighed down and burdened by stuff like this, and add on loss of work and other factors and you have a ripe situation for suicide.  All you have to do is be a patient listening ear, a friendly face and voice to help them see that someone does care and that they aren't in this alone.  Too often people think that they are in it by themselves that they have no one to turn to for help or guidance, and just by you being there can make all the difference in the world.  You may never know how your words of kindness and sympathy may impact another persons life, nor do you know where that casual conversation you have might take you.

The last risk factor that I want to talk to you about is lethal means, you need to find out if they have access to weapons, guns, knives, pills, or any other type of means that might provide them with a lethal way to injure themselves.  If you identify that risk in your conversation I urge you to find away to keep them away from it, never let them be alone, and get them help and assistance at the earliest possible opportunity. You are not a trained counselor, and it isn't your responsibility to put yourself or anyone else in harms way, including the person you are talking too. Getting them help as appropriate is essential in keeping them from going through this situation and crisis over and over again.

So here is what I want you to take away from this entry. Pay attention to others when they talk to you, really hear and comprehend what they are saying to you, listen and be aware that they maybe reaching out to you and crying for your help, be compassionate and sincere when they are talking to you, find out as much information as you can about the crisis that they are feeling and going through. Get as much back fill information as you can gather, about family, friends, and any illness, legal problems, trauma that they might have experience. Stay with them and refer them or get them the help that they need.

Let me review what is written above:  Who is at risk for suicide?

People with:
- previous suicide attempts
- mental illness including Post traumatic stress disorder
- co-occurring mental health and alcohol/substance abuse
- cultural and religious beliefs that may support suicide
- physical illness
- resistance to accessing mental health treatment
- easy access to lethal means, especially guns
- legal problems, incarceration etc.
- stressful life event or loss: job loss, abuse sexual/mental, bullying
- family factors :
            - family history of suicide and violence, emotional issues, low level of communication and coping skill
            - change in family structure such as:
                - divorce
                - separation
                - loss of an important person
                - loss of capacity
                - death of a loved one or friend

After going over this I see that I left out loss of capacity when I was talking above, and this can be an older person who thinks that they are no longer useful, they have to depend on others to help them accomplish simple tasks that they were so used to taking care of on their own before.  They feel like that have become a burden on everyone around them and may feel that their frailty and weakness is too much to bear.  Or it could be because of physical illness like I discussed earlier, but wanted to draw a little more attention to this, because of how close it hits to me and my situation.

I too at times go through the feeling of diminished capacity because of the surgeries I have had and the scaring, the bags and everything else that I have been through.  I have to admit that I have some amazing friends that have accepted me inspite of these limitations and modifications to my body.  But the fear still remains that one day I will find myself alone with no one that can love me because of the damage that has been done to my body.  If you would like more information about this check out my blog on "Inner Demon Finally Revealed...Is there still hope?"  I am sure you will find out how deep my fears go, and you can read my blog entry on "True Friendship" and how my friend Jason Blake saved my life by just sitting there and listening to my fears and helping me see that I am someone that can still be loved and that I have something to offer the world.

Trust me when I tell you that all you have to do is listen, extend a hand in friendship, be sincere, and compassionate and loving to others and you can change their life.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Suicide, Myths and Facts revealed!

Several months ago a friend of mine and I started the Plus Suicide Project on Google +.  We created it in response to the increasing number of teen suicides that we saw occurring in the LBGT teen community.  However, I felt that I didn't have enough information at my command to deal with this situation in the appropriate manner.  Last night I attend a training seminar that is designed toward suicide prevention and make us the first line of defense in the fight against it.  The program is designed to train Gatekeepers, these are compassionate, caring individuals that are trained to develop the knowledge, attitude and skills to identify people at risk for suicide.  They are trained to manage a crisis situation and get the individual help and assistance as needed.   After going through the course I wanted to share some of the information that I learned from it with you.  I think it is important to cover the facts about suicide and explore the myths and misconceptions that individuals have about suicide.

If we want to be able to make a difference in peoples lives and help them when they are in crisis, we need to have a firm understanding about what suicide is and what we can do to help the individual that is going through it at every point.  Like they say to be forewarned is to be forearmed and it is my hope that the information that is provided here will give you a strong foundation to understand that suicide is a real threat.  That it can come from any corner and hit anyone.  Depression and a feeling of isolation and not belonging are some of the key factors that lead a person to consider and even try suicide.  But let's explore the facts first.

Did you know in the United States one person commits suicide every 17 minutes? I bet you didn't.  Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youths ages 15-24 and the 2nd cause of death for ages 25-34.  There are 764,000 suicide attempts each year, and that the elderly have the highest rate of suicide. One out of every 100,000 elderly people commit suicide each day.  Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. Whatever your beliefs about suicide they are irrelevant, suicide is real and seems like it is the only option left to these people.  Most really don't want to die, but cannot see any other alternative and they are just wanting their pain to stop.  More people that are contemplating suicide are more comfortable speaking with a clergy member or other member of their church than they are of talking to a mental health professional for a number of reasons, one of which is that it doesn't cost anything, and that they think that a member of their church or even their pastor is part of their family and is there to listen an help them.  However, most clergy members and church family is not prepared and doesn't know what to do when in a crisis situation.  It is important to be compassionate, caring and a good listener, and never ever leave the person in crisis alone.

So what are some facts and myths that you should be aware of when dealing with a person that is in crisis.  Myth: If you ask someone about his/her suicidal intent, you may encourage the idea of completing suicide.  Fact:  Talking about or asking about suicide will not cause a person to kill himself and will in fact lower their anxiety level and act as a deterrent to suicidal behavior.  Myth:  Suicide happens without warning and people who talk about killing themselves rarely complete suicide.  Fact: Most people who commit suicide have reached out and have given warning clues either verbal or otherwise of their intentions.  80% of those that did commit suicide left definite warning signs of their intent.  Fact: Talking about suicide can be a plea for help, not an attempt to manipulate. Fact: Most of those that have committed suicide have spent a lot of time thinking and planning their death in great detail.  Myth:  If a person is contemplating suicide and asks you not to tell anyone it is important not to break that trust given too you.  Fact: When dealing with a suicidal person, you should never ever pledge to keep their confidentiality.  The person needs to be followed up on and probably should be referred to help for further assistance.  You probably should get a trained professional involved so that they can provide appropriate resources to help the person.

Another myth is that Suicide is more common in people from a higher socioeconomic status.  Fact: statistics clearly show there is no typical victim, suicide can happen to anyone from any economical group. Another myth is: A person who has lost a close family member to suicide has a lower risk of suicide because they have learned the pain it causes.  Fact: Research has actually shown that a family history of suicide is a significant risk factor and survivors are SIX times as likely to die by suicide than the general public. Myth: You can tell by looking at someone that they may be more likely to commit suicide.  Fact: There is no way a person can determine by look alone if a person is likely to commit suicide.  There can be no sign of depression, a person can be smiling and bubbly on the outside but still be totally shattered and broken on the inside.

We have become so adapt in wearing our outside masks that we can keep almost anyone in the dark as to our moods and feelings hidden behind.  Keep this firmly in mind you cannot look at a person and tell what they are thinking, nor can you tell what they are thinking about suicide.  Communication is the key in dealing with situations like this, just like I have pointed out in several posts.  Communication and the ability to listen are extremely important in dealing with everyone. You need to really pay attention to what someone is telling you and listen for key words that might indicate that they are thinking about suicide.  Compassionate listening and demonstrating that you are sincere in your concerns for another person may just be enough to save another persons life.  I have told you before that casual conversation can lead you to many unfamiliar and unexpected places, and this one of them.  You never know who might be reaching out to you for help, you have to be paying attention and be a conscientious listener.

So who do you think should have the responsibility of identifying people who may be suicidal or at risk of committing suicide?  Do you think it should be the pastor, counselors or mental health professionals?  The truth of the matter a person who is thinking about suicide may not have any interaction with one of these professionals, and you are the only one they have.  You maybe the only person they are willing to be open and talk with about what they are going through, so it needs to be your responsibility to get them help, so you need to know how to recognize the signs of personal crisis and potential suicide.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.  Keep in mind that people on drugs or alcohol who are talking about suicide are probably considering it. Remember that drugs and alcohol have a tendency to induce depression and can act to remove inhibitions that would normally prevent a person from contemplating suicide.  Research suggest that 20-50% of individuals who have committed suicide have had an alcohol or drug problem.  Keep in mind that unless you know the whole story everyone has the potential for suicide there are some factors that make a person more at risk than others, but we will get into that in another article.

What I want you to understand from this is that suicide is a big deal, these statistics that I have been reading show that suicide occurs almost double the homicide rate. Yet we hear more about the homicides than we ever do about the suicides.  Bullying, rejection, pain, loss, humiliation and a million other factors can drive someone toward suicide.  Be open, receptive and responsive to the needs and concerns of others, be aware of their words, and listen for their cries for help.  You will hear them, you will know in your heart that something is off.  Talk to them, get them to open up to you and offer them kindness, compassion and help.

Remember that a person who commits suicide leaves behind them 6 people that are suffering and in pain because of their loss.  No one is immune to depression, anxiety, fear, and the pile up of emotional baggage that can pull a person under to the point where they feel they are trapped and have no way out.

I hope this opened your eyes a little, there is a silent world out there where people are just disappearing in to the night, lost and alone begging for help to end their pain and suffering. All we have to do is listen and we might be the one that saves another persons life through just a simple act of kindness and caring.  Everything is possible.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So how do you deal with loneliness?

For the past several months I have been battling an ever increasing sense of loneliness.  It has been a constant companion since I moved back to Florida.  I think one of the things that I miss most about my life in Atlanta is all the people I used to surround myself with.  Now, I am not necessarily talking about all the drama that they brought into my life, or the conflicts that arose because they were constantly around.  I am just talking about people in general. I have come to realize that I am a very social person. I don't like to be alone and I find it hard to entertain myself.  Hence, the appeal of the Meth world, because when you are high you hardly ever want to be alone.  As one of my friends used to say the more the merrier.  However, those weren't quality relationships, and often lead to conflict with the person I was dating or seeing at the time.  Having a house or apartment full of people 24/7 is not really conducive to creating a lasting relationship, I can tell you on that one.  Because the long and the short of it everyone's problems became mine and my partners all the time.  As my Ex Sterling can tell you I was busy being everyone's mother and he was busy being everyone's father. There just wasn't any time left for us.  Inevitably this caused a lot of friction in our relationship and bad choices along with some other things led us down a path that just tore us apart.  Sterling once said to me that it wasn't me it was all the "extra" that came along with me.  It took me several years and getting out of that circle of people to realize exactly what he meant.

But each of us handles loneliness differently, we each process and deal with being alone in our own personal way.  Today, I write a great deal, I play on Facebook and MeetMe, and I have even gotten on Google+.  That still wasn't enough for me, I still felt this impending doom and loneliness creeping in upon me. So I looked around and started looking for other outlets for me to pursue.  I came across the Partnership for Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Planning Group and the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau.  I started volunteering my time and energy to those organizations and that seemed to help.  Unfortunately, a series of problems have come up with my health and I have been unable to attend some of the recent meetings, but I plan on getting back involved as soon as I physically can.  Another way that I deal with my situation and loneliness is I spend a considerable amount of time on the phones with some of my friends.  I have a some very good friends in Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa, L.A., Seattle, Macon, Atlanta, and North and South Carolina.  Before I moved out of my father's place, he would say he didn't know how I could talk on the phone so long without the battery dying all the time.  He said it seemed like I was on the phone 24/7, and sometimes I would be.

But how do you cope with loneliness? What kind of activities do you do to take your mind off of boredom?  How do you keep from fretting over things that you can't control when you are all alone?  My way is not necessarily the easiest way, but it most certainly isn't the hardest way either.  I do a lot of praying and meditating, and watching movies.  I do have a tendency to get bored easily, and I have to create things for myself to do.  If I had all the stuff that is up at my mother's in storage, I would never be bored. All my craft and art supplies are up there. I could be sitting here making jewelry or doing cross-stitch or something to take my mind off the boredom, worries and quiet times.  I also have all sorts of computer books and stuff up there, I could be brushing up on my skill set, and trying to get back to work in the IT field.  I interview still but it seems that my skill set is outdated and I will either have to go through some type of retraining or re-teach myself everything I have forgotten.

I sort of envy people that can entertain themselves, that enjoy being alone and don't get bored easily.  I wish I had that quality within me.  Because honestly there are some days where I just feel so restless and I have no idea what to do with myself.  There once was a time when I buried myself in books or in video games, but now I have a more social focus and I like to be around people and experience social interactions.  I know with today's technology our friends are even closer now than ever, and we can just log on to things like Facebook, SchoolFeed or other social networking sites and we can instantly connect with them.  However, I honestly don't feel that this type of interaction can actually replace for me the need for human interaction.  I like to talk to people, hear their voice, look at them as they are telling me their problems, concerns and crisis's  Though it is fun to connect with people I haven't seen or talked to in years and Facebook has made that possible for me.  I have reconnected with a lot of my high school friends and Navy pals, I have even begun talking to them on the phone and so forth.  It really has been a cool experience to find out what has been happening with them and their lives since we parted.  I can say that it has made it well worth it.  There are some people that I knew in the Navy that I never thought I would ever see or hear from again, and because of Facebook we have reconnected all these years later.  It is fantastic.

I guess in the long run, the way I deal with loneliness is not to deal with it. To pick up the phone or log into Facebook, or send an email to someone is my way of coping.  Plus, I have you my readers that I write to daily and talk to you about everything.  I have found a way to be completely open to the world and keep no more secrets.  I must say that is a blessing within itself.

Further, with the amount of emails and comments that I have been getting about my blog, I am so very happy that the lessons I have learned in my life are able to help others who are going through similar situations.  I am honestly thankful that you are all here and are so supportive of my writing and what I have to say.

Bottom line is this, I don't believe that there is ever going to be a total substitute for human interaction, we have to get out there and meet other people.  There is only so much living we can do at present in Cyberspace.  Though as VR becomes more available and real, I think more and more people will be living a life within the "Matrix" and meeting people that way.  But for now, I encourage you to go out and do it the old fashion way.  Talk to real live humans, get to know them, interact with them.  Don't hide behind your loneliness and boredom, like I told you the other day "Life doesn't come with a remote control, if it isn't how you like it, get up and change it yourself". You can do it, all it takes is a little effort and a leap of faith.  My best friend said on Facebook today "Anything worthwhile isn't going to be painless, no pain, no gain."  Take a step out of the cyber world and live in the real one for a minute and see if you can't experience the same things in both lands.  It really is a wondrous place this world we live in. You just need to go out there and experience it first hand.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What happened to old fashion romance and passion in relationships?

I was on the phone with one of my ex's, someone that I was with for quite a while about 25 years ago.  He is  2 years younger than I am and he is now dating a 27 year old.  He was telling me that his sex life has become almost no existent, that there doesn't seem to be any passion or affection outside of the few times they have sex.  Which had gone from 3 or 4 times a weekend to now 1 or 2 times every 3 or 4 weeks.  This got me wondering what happened to old fashion romance and passion, where are the cuddling nights sitting on the couch watching a movie together and snuggling?  Have those days gone by?  Are they gone forever?  That brings me back to how can we ignite our love and make it something real and tangible for every day?

See, I am all too aware that there are some relationships that are based on mutual affection, and then there are some that are based genuinely on love, with those few that are just relationships of convenience. Where two people are sharing the same lives, but not the same dreams and goals.  It must be sad to feel like you are just roommates with an occasional benefit thrown in every once in awhile.  We have talked about relationships in the past and how some are just like business arrangements, that are beneficially mutual to both parties concerned.  But what happens when one of the party develops deeper feelings for the other that is not reciprocated?

This I think is what happens in most gay relationships, they start out good because we, and I am using the term we here because I fall into the same category and pattern here, have a tendency to start our relationships off the wrong way. We meet out in a bar, or sometimes with the advent of the internet and all the dating sites, we start off meeting the person, hanging out and before we know it we are having sex.  We continue to see that person and the sex continues.  Gay men seem to have a misconception that sex and chilling together equates a relationship.  We don't go out on traditional dates, we don't explore the other person fully we just jump into it with both feet so to speak.  Now, again I can only speak from personal experience, but I have found that the longest relationships that I have had I came at them with a different focus.  For example, yes I met Joe my ex of 12 1/2 years by answering a personal add on a computer bulletin board, this is before the internet.  We emailed and spoke to one another daily for 6 moths before we ever met.  We talked about everything and we explored each other before we ever met.  When we did meet I will admit that the first thing we did was have sex.  Then we went to dinner with my best friend and chilled out.  For the first week we were inseparable, then he had to go back to Atlanta for work, but 2 weeks later he was back in Florida at a job site at the beach, I was actually off of work at the time and was able to meet up with him and spent that week together with him also.  We talked about moving me up to Atlanta with him, and he even invited me up for a weekend to see if I liked it.  Well with me being there, his roommate came forward and told him how much he cared about him and a lot of drama ensued.  I ended up coming back to Florida and talking with the management company of the complex I was living at and found that I could transfer my lease up to Atlanta for only $50.00 which is what we decided to do.  Joe and I lived in that apartment in Atlanta for 7 months, most of which time he was never home. I moved to Atlanta and for 5 months he was on the road, and I barely ever saw him.  I had gotten a job and started working the Monday after I had moved up there so there was no lapse in pay for me.    But let me tell you something even doing it that way, getting to know someone via email and text messaging was not enough.  We didn't know each other and didn't give ourselves a chance to get to know one another. Before we knew it we were buying a house together and getting dogs, and before I blinked 5 years had gone by.  We were always arguing and fighting and with him travelling so much, there wasn't very much sex between us.  But it was okay because I went back to school got my bachelors and master's degrees and kept myself busy while he was away.

The long and the short of it is that with the technology of today, people aren't spending time together and learning about each other. They read an online profile, go out on a date and jump right into the sack with the other person.  This doesn't make for a successful relationship at all.  Eventually, there are going to be incompatibilities and things that you learn about one another that may change the dynamic of the relationship. If you really care about the person you are with you have to keep the relationship exciting and full of love and feeling. Each one of you needs to be reaffirmed that the other cares about you and feels the same way you do.  Affection goes part of the way in doing this, but there has to be verbal affirmation as well. You need to hear it as well as feel it.  You need to do simple little things that let the other know what you are feeling towards them. That them running around naked still turns you on and makes you happy.  Hide little gifts around, with notes telling them how special they are an what you think about them.  Keep in mind that for most people a compliment on the way they look and about their personality will go a long way in reassuring them that you still love and care for them.

My advice to you is that if you want to really discover and find someone that cares about you.  Take it slow, get to know them, keep the sex part out of it for as long as you can.  Learn all about them, their likes, their dislikes, their favorite things, go out and explore the world together, and do all of this before ever stepping into the bedroom.  Because honestly sex stirs up emotions and puts strings on things that maybe should be tied up.  I have met tons of people online that advertise that they are looking for casual encounters with no strings attached (NSA).  Guess what that doesn't work for me, because after being with them and having sex  with them several times, I find myself getting attached, and falling for them.  However, as I explained above, I really hadn't gotten to know anything about them, and when it finally and inevitably ends I am the one that is hurting because I connected with that person sexually, I enjoyed being with that person, yet the only thing I truly knew about the person is what they liked to do sexually.  When I tried dating some of them, it would only last a short while because outside of the bedroom we would have nothing in common, and those that I did have something with didn't understand the concept of monogamy.  So what I am trying to tell you is that you might save yourself some heartache and trouble if you take the time upfront to get to know someone really before you ever jump into bed with them.

Then there are those that you have had sexual relationships with that you feel a kind of connection with that you think you might want to explore further, but how do you go from being a Fuck Buddy to a full partner?  The answer is that it can be done but with some difficulty, and patience and a lot of hard work. Because you have to get over the preconceived notions that each of you have built over the casual encounters. You have to take the time to really get to know the person and you have to be willing to start over from scratch, like the past never happened.  You can't walk into it and hope that it will gel and work, because it doesn't happen like that. Further, you can't expect everything to fall into place immediately, both of you are going to be at different places in your lives and you are going to have to work hard to bring them together.  Because the only way that you can make that type of relationship work is if you are willing to join everything together and start over as a single unit.  You can't come at if from two different points of view and expect that your goals, expectations and living situation are just going to fall into alignment.  You have to work together, to make a new starting place, fresh, free from the past and you have to work toward building a future together. As my friend in Seattle once told me, the past is behind, keep hold of the memories, but you have to let go of those feelings and emotions and move forward.  Forward, is the only way that you can possibly be together, you have to start over in a totally new found place where both of you are on equal footing and no one has the advantage.  Get to know one another again, this time from a friend and lover standpoint and not from the sexual standpoint.  You already know what they like to do sexually, but what about the rest of their life. What do you know about that? Are you willing to join in and help them reach their personal goals?  Are you even aware of their personal goals? How do their goals line up with your own?  Then what kind of goals are you and your partner going to want to have together?

See it is very important for you you have a set of goals that provide you a map toward where you are trying to get too.  Each of you should have individual goals that will keep you both moving forward, but for a relationship to work you also have to have common relationship goals that both of you are willing to work on together.  It is extremely important for a relationship to work to have manageable and achievable goals that both of you are willing to work on together.  Plus you have to be willing to support your partners individual goals and they yours.  This will make a sound foundation for the relationship and one that is designed to grow.  If everyone could get to this point the divorce rate in our country would be on the decline instead of constantly rising each year.

So, what I would like to recommend to you at this point no matter in what type of relationship you find yourself in, if you are wanting to make it work and care about each other than you have to learn how to come together and keep it interesting, new and inviting. You are going to have to talk about your own goals and those of your partner, see where each of you can help the other to reach and achieve their goals. You also have to find goals that will keep the relationship moving forward, and growing as well, these are the common goals I was talking to you about. You have to learn how to keep the mystery and romance alive, do little things that remind each other how much you care and what you love about the other one. You also have to talk to one another, be truthful with your fear, dreams, hopes, desires and most importantly your feelings.  Communication and honesty are as important as the affection and sexual parts of the relationship.  Make time to spend with one another and make it romantic and special.  Remember that just because life hasn't presented you with the perfect opportunity, you can make one.  Keep in mind that each moment is unique and special, it is never going to be repeated in the whole of history, so take it and make it unique and special for you and the one that you love.

Surround yourself with positive energy, and friends that are supportive, cling to optimistic people, and shy away from the pessimists, they will hold you back.  Also assess your current friends and loved one, those that are taking more away from you than they are giving are holding you back and keeping you from reaching your full potential you have to cut them loose, let them go.  Remember only you have you own best interest at heart, and those that don't support you or in some way add benefit to your goals, ambitions, and desires you should let them go.  You and your partner do not need to have others hanging around bringing you down, you need people that care about you and are supportive of you both and are willing to build you up.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't be afraid to Ask for help!

There comes a point in each of our lives when we just can't do everything on our own.  Our resources are tapped, our bills are overwhelming, our medical conditions are out of control and we just need some sort of help just to make ends meet.  No matter what your situation or what you are going through, don't let pride and dignity stand in the way of you turning to others for help and assistance.  I have been living on disability for almost 7 years now.  I am not ashamed of that fact, I worked hard and paid a lot of money into the system to get the amount of disability that I get.  However, there are times when that disability money doesn't reach far enough and doesn't cover all my bills and expenses.

Just like this move into the new apartment, as much of a blessing that it has been, I was still stretched to my limit, money and funds were not there to cover all the expenses of moving, and as you are aware from my earlier posts, I have no furniture and I have borrowed everything that I have in my apartment currently, except for the TV and minor stuff that I could find on discount or at the pawn shop.  With the help of my father, stepmother and neighbors I was able to at least have an air mattress to sleep on, a dresser to put my cloths, a table to eat on, and a couple of chairs to sit on.  All I had were my clothes and my computers.

Now with all of that being said, I reached out to my friend Jeff Allen, he is a big HIV/AIDS advocate and volunteer in the community that I have met and become acquainted with.  I told him that I was looking for furniture and some help. That I have been thinking about renting out my second room to someone, so that it would defray some of my expenditures and help with income.  He sent me an email about an organization that might help me.  The organization is call the Ministries For Christ Outreach and since I didn't know exactly what to say, I sent a very long email about my situation, my health and condition and what I was looking for help with.  Now, I sent this email on Thursday night, and I hadn't heard anything from them, but I figured that they were just busy helping others and that they would eventually get to me.  I was right in a way sort of, see I got a call early this morning from Pastor Lisa Polite, my email had gone into her spam folder on her computer and she hadn't seen it, and for some reason she just happened to look in there and saw my email. For those of you who are still "doubting Thomas's" understand that she told me she normally doesn't look in the spam folder and for some reason this morning she did.  You tell me that if God isn't at work in my life, and answering all of my prayers, why did my email catch her attention?

See, I am convinced that God is watching out over me, and is sheltering me in His mighty arms, because, of all the beautiful and wondrous things that have been happening to me lately.  Well, let's continue on with this story, she called me this morning and asked me some questions we talked for a bit on the phone, and she asked if she could come and see me this morning around 9 am.  I said that would be great.  Let me tell you she brought me enough supplies and food to last me quite a while.  She truly blessed me beyond words.  I mean rice, can vegetables, can fruit, soup, spaghetti, sauce, mac-n-cheese, lunch meat and bread, just so much, toilet paper, laundry detergent and the list goes on and on.  When I say she blessed me I am not being figurative, but literal.  I was taken away with the generosity and kindness of a lady that had never met me.

So you see it never hurts to open oneself up and ask for help when you truly need it.  Just last night I was worrying how was I going to last till the beginning of the month when I get paid again because money was running out.  Before I went to sleep last night I had asked God to help me through, and behold this morning I was woken up to a blessing beyond measure.  Now, Pastor Lisa is a great deal like me, she has so much positive energy and love pouring out of her, that I felt an instant bond.  I asked her if her organization and ministry needed help, that I wanted to be apart of the program. I explained to her some of the things that I want to accomplish, and have been trying to start here. Like the housing referral program and housing assistance programs.  She told me to keep them in mind because those are the types of things that they would like to expand in what they currently offer.  We talked for quite awhile, and I showed her my blog, and I felt so very comfortable with her.

I told you not too long ago that we never know where casual conversation is going to take us, that we don't know what doors each encounter is going to open for us.  What I didn't tell you is that you just need to be open and receptive to God's love.  It doesn't matter what you have done, or what your situation is, you just need to be open too it.  Because His love is unconditional and doesn't require any effort or work on your part. It flows through you and into you and energizes you.  Trust me and I tell you that being open and receptive is how His blessing flow to you.  So there is no shame in admitting that you can't do it all alone, there is no shame in reaching out to organizations and asking for help or assistance.  Trust me that there are people out there that understand what you are going through, perhaps they have gone through similar things themselves.

If you ever find yourself in need and you don't know where to turn too there is a number that you can call it is 211 it is to the United Way.  Call that number they will ask you a few simple questions and be able to refer you to services in your area.  They help all sorts of people, people in crisis, people who are homeless, people who need assistance with utilities and back rent and all sorts of other things.  That is the place that I would start if you don't know who else to turn too.  Keep in mind that you also have a church family that you can reach out to, speak to your pastor, and see if they might know of some programs or assistance that you can apply for.  There are government programs, grants, and other types of public assistance that are available to those that are having difficulties.  Today the world has gotten more sophisticated, once upon a time you used to have paper food stamps that you had to present at the register when you checked out and everyone knew that you were on public assistance. Today it is all done with a credit card, and only you and the cashier know that you are on food stamps.

If you qualify, I think you should go down and apply for them.  They are a big help and will defray some of the cost that you have to spend out each month.  If you are like me and don't qualify, because you make too much money on disability or whatever, there are other types of assistance you can apply for.  Trust me when I tell you, look around you and reach out.  A closed mouth finds no answers and gets no help. You have to be vocal about your situation and your problems if you want to get help.  I keep telling you that life is too short for you to hold it all inside of you.  Plus, do you really need the extra stress, worry and heartache?  I honestly don't think you do.  So be honest with yourself and your friends, let them know what is happening with you. Because believe it or not someone else close to you might be going through the same thing or a similar situation and you can help each other out, exchange information and find the help that you both need.  Talk to everyone, be honest, let that pride go.  Stop your worrying and do something about the situation before it gets any worse.  The last thing you need to do is let things go and let them build up until there is no possible solution to the situation.

Keep this in mind "Life doesn't come with a remote control, if you don't like the way something is get up and change it yourself".  You have to be willing to work hard, and make a change because when you help yourself you are going to see that the blessing will start rolling in.  You have to take that leap of faith and just try, do something for yourself and trust that everything will work out and believe me it will.  All you have to do is try. Push down that fear and worry, I know they are what is holding you back and keeping you from taking action, because if you don't nothing is ever going to change and you are going to be stuck in repeat.  Repeating the same process week after week, month after month. We have to do something, change something in order for us to break free from the rut that we have found ourselves in.  Asking others for help is a start in that process, and let me tell you it is a process, nothing ever changes over night and if it did I would be worried about it.  How many times have I told you the easy things in life are not the ones that we value. It is what we have had to work hard for and strive the most for that mean the most too us.  Each of us needs to feel a sense of accomplishment and that we are making progress, if we don't we feel trapped, and depression can creep in.  Keep your guard up don't let depression get to you.  As I have told you before, it doesn't matter what you have done today, what trouble you got in, or what crisis you have found yourself in. Tomorrow is a new day, brand new no mistakes, a clean slate, and you have a chance to do it all over again, this time differently.

Don't be afraid to reach out and let your story be known, it isn't going to make you a different person from who you are.  Are you really that afraid that people are going to see you differently now because they know what you are going through?  Maybe they will begin to see that you are just a person like them and have problems just like them and maybe they have some help or advice to offer you.

Also keep in mind that if you are going through some medical issues or health concerns that there are agencies and support out there to help you.  You might want to start with the case manager at the hospital or medical center that you were seen at to find something that might be able to help you.  If you are gay and have housing or health concerns check out your local gay community center or speak to your infectious disease doctor because they know of programs and agencies that can help you.  I can speak from the HIV/AIDS standpoint that there are agencies and funding out there to help you.  Contact your local public health center to get in contact with them.  If you have been disabled and out of work for over a year you may even be eligible for assistance through your states Vocational Rehabilitation, they might be able to send you back to school to get retrained in a new field, they can help you procure a job.  There are all sorts of programs out there to help you become an independent and functioning member of society.  All you have to do is look for them.

I just want you to be aware, that if you don't speak up and don't ask for help you are never going to get it.  The squeaky wheel gets the oil, not the ones that make no noise.  There is no shame in applying for government assistance, and programs that are out there to help you live a comfortable life, and if you are ill, check into all the resources and help that you can find. Drugs, hospitalizations, doctors and tests all cost money and can be very expensive.  Look for alternatives, patient assistance programs, agencies and groups that cater to your specific illness they are out there, you just have to reach out and talk to them.

Keep in mind that each conversation you have can open a tremendous amount of doors and opportunities, just be open and receptive.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Dearest love: ( A poem of Loss)

I honestly don't know what to feel. My heart is aching wondering what did I do to you?  Just a few months ago you said I was the one. The world so bright your moon and sun.  Now here we are, I'm lost and alone. Remembering all the words and things you had spoken.  You told me that I was going to be the very last one, that you would ever give your heart too.  You told me to look at your past and see what he had done to you.  So I did, I was there, and I remember all too well what he put your through, but here I sit and you do the same to me.  When you begged me to never do the same.  Still I am the one feeling all the pain and shame.  You asked me to love you to give you a chance. You said you could prove our love would last, but that never came to pass.

For months you told me that you cared for me. That you loved me and hadn't we been through enough.  Both of us had health issues and we needed to spend what time we had left building a life together you and I.  You told me that we need each other, life was too short to bear it alone.  Didn't you say to me that it was better to spend what time we had holding my hand then being alone?  But where are you? Where have you gone? Why can't you talk to me, what's gone wrong?

You said that you couldn't wait to see me. I bought you a ticket to come.  Even went to meet you and you weren't there.  You got angry which wasn't fair, I did it all for you! When we talked we worked it through and you promised it would all work out.  I wrote poems and stories, posted blog entries all inspired by you.  I was never lonely when I could hear your voice even though we were far apart.  The promise of us being together kept me grounded and focused.

We are meant for each other you said, you told me I taught you how to be more kind and generous.  You told me that it was because of me that you changed how you treated and cared for others. That I inspired you and made you a better man.  Gave you joy and love that birthed lyrics and song.  Oh how you missed me, to feel my touch, my lips and see my smile.  How beautiful my blue eyes were and how they shone when I looked at you.  It was those words and feelings that touched my heart and soul, that made me reconsider and announce the feelings I had for you.  Your very words, and the pictures I have of you made me happy. You encouraged me to write again, you praised the words that I have written, but they were a gift of inspiration that came from you.  You made me feel like I was wanted, loved and alive.  You made me forget the pain, the loneliness and misery of almost dying this spring.  You know how fragile life is, and how sick I have been, but you were there for me when I needed it.  Why haven't you let me be there for you when you needed me?

Your last words to me were never goodbye, what you said was that you loved me and missed me! That everything between us was alright.  You said you needed time to deal with what you were going through, but asked me to find us a place because you were coming to stay. You wanted to be here to celebrate our anniversary in November. What about all the plans we have made, the dogs, the home, the career?  Where do we go from here, I have heard nothing from you not even goodbye.

We were friends long before all else and friendship just doesn't end. A friend is a friend to the end. They stay and fight, have your back They even scream and fight, which you and I have never done.  I am standing here and telling you what's right. How I feel in my heart. Letting you know for the first time how I truly feel, because as you know me so well, how hard it is for me to let my feelings out.

It's alright you have moved on. It's okay you have chosen a different way.  Just remember what you said. Be true to yourself if nothing else. It's you who have to feel good in the end.  I put my trust in you and believed your words.  They brought me peace, joy and hope, Thank you for that at least.

Remember this i have been and always shall be your friend. Just like like when I say the words "I love you" they mean something to me. so does"friend" and I will be yours till the end.  One day I hope you will once again be able to talk to me. Look me in the eye and tell me why you had to lie.  I wasn't just another guy I have been through it all with you. I know you so well.  You were what made me complete. Now I am just a shadow of myself. No courage or strength, no confidence or care.

Your silence was just too much for me to bear. Not knowing what I had done to make you run like you have begun.  Remember this and keep it clear. I love you with all my heart and you have ripped and made it just a smudge and smear..

Goodbye my love I wish you only joy, success and happiness.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

You know secrets come with a price, they aren't free not now not ever!

You know we have been talking a lot about life and relationships, but have you ever thought what the cost of a secret does to the relationship?  See it is true that secrets and lies are not free, they come with a cost, not only to you, but to the ones you love and the ones you are trying to protect.  With lies and secrets comes a certain air of mistrust and that puts a strain on the relationship.  You can't expect someone to trust you if there is something in the way of that trust and that is what secrets are. When you are secretive you start acting a certain way and others can tell that you are hiding something.  They begin to wonder what it is that you don't want them too know.  From there leads to speculation and ultimately they begin to doubt everything you are saying to them.  Curiosity is a trait that is not only confined to cats you know, human curiosity is something that never ceases.  Why do you think mystery novels are so popular.  Everyone loves a good mystery and they try to figure it out way before they ever know the whole plot.

Try to keep in mind that secrets have a toll on you too, they add stress and worry to your life, and once you start keeping them either by hiding them with lies or by silence, it starts to truly add weight on your shoulders. Once you start telling lies you have to keep telling them in order to keep them hidden.  It becomes a never ending task and sooner or later someone is going to catch you at it.  When they do there goes the trust that you have built up with them.  Life is too short to have secrets and lies in your life.  Especially if you are in a relationship.  How can a person really know you if you are keeping things back from them.  As I have always told you communication is the key and honesty is what is important.  Being honest not only to your loved ones and family, but you always need to be totally honest with yourself.  I know sometimes it seems easier to rationalize and lie to yourself, but at the end of the day you know what really happened and no matter how many lies you tell yourself it is not going to change the situation.

That is another thing about hiding the truth and lies, it ties you to them. How can you move forward if you are carrying around baggage of the past?  Lies and secrets keep you firmly rooted to a story that just isn't true and you continually are brought back to it.  You have to keep covering it up, and like I said lies upon lies is like building a house of cards, sooner or later one wrong move is going to bring the whole thing crashing down on you. Again, for your own peace of mind and that of the ones you care about you need to put everything out in the open. If you do that you will find that there is less stress in your life, and that if you stick together you can overcome any obstacle.  Like they say 2 heads are better than one. Don't isolate yourself and keep yourself from truly experiencing love with another person because of lies.  Secrets and lies are the same thing, believe me I know all about them.  I used to do Meth, and that is a drug that manipulates the brain.  Some people think more clearly on it and the lies they tell just to get the next hit or fix can leave your head spinning.  The trouble is most people can see through those lies and see you for what you are and what you are doing, but your head is so filled with the drug you never even realize.

Don't take the risk of being alienated by your friends and family because you are trying to hide something.  For years I didn't speak to my parents, because I was doing drugs, and was partying all the time, but also because I didn't want them to know what I was into.  They knew because my ex told them.  He told them when he thought I had gotten out of control. I was confronted by my mother, of course I denied it. It was my secret and I didn't want her to know.  Then I got arrested for possession, however, in that case I was telling the truth that it wasn't my stuff, however because my parents knew about the drug use and I had denied it, they didn't believe me. Luckily I got off of the charges, but it isn't something that I am willing to go through again.  Hence the reason why I put everything out on the web. I have nothing to hide anymore. I have come to far and lived through too much to go back and start hiding who I really am now.  See the truth of the matter is when Sterling and I were dating he and I did way more drugs than we should have.  We were doing so much that others couldn't believe it.  It wasn't a proud time of my life let me tell you.  When we both came to realize how much we were really doing and how utter ridiculous we had been, and what risks we had taken, we both cut way back, but hadn't quit entirely.

Then later on it started coming to light to everyone around us about how much we did. It was even thrown in my face a couple of times by a number of people that I had gotten so many people hooked on the stuff.  Do you know how scary it is to find out that you were responsible for hundreds of young men shooting up Meth?  Over and over again I hear how "oh, I know Bryan, he was the one that taught me how to slam"  That is not a fond reputation that I like having.  I was always safe, made sure that people knew what they were doing and how to mix up the stuff.  I also stayed with them and provided them a safe place to do the stuff, but that isn't the point. The point is I may have ruined a great many of lives just by teaching them slamming.  Meth is not a drug to play with lightly, it is not physically addicting like heroin, it alters the brain, and is a mental addiction that is extremely hard to break. You can be away from it for years and still think about the feeling, you still get the longing for it. I don't know how else to explain, but it is true. I don't think you ever truly escape it's grasp.  But as I have told you in the past, you can't escape your past! What was hidden and done in the dark always comes to light!

I cannot change my past, the only thing I can do is try to make the right choices in the future and move forward.  I have to let go of the past no matter how hard that is. One of the reasons why people hold on to the past is because they tend to remember it better than it was, and they view the present harder than it really is.  It is always nicer to compare what is happening in our lives with the past, we have a tendency to make it out that things were better back then, but in actuality they were probably pretty much the same.  The difficulty level only changes when we learn to change the way we look at things.  We have a tendency to make up stories and hide the truth of things when we are not satisfied with what we have or where we are at in life.  What happens then is that the lies spin out of our control and before we know it you are defending something that isn't real.

Life is what we make out of it, as I have told you before. If we constantly embellish, lie or be secretive about ourselves how can we expect anyone to ever get to know the real you?  How can you honestly find someone that can love you?  Do you want to be alone forever?  I know that I don't.  Even now I am hoping against hope that someone will find me and love me for the person I am.  I used to live a life of lies and deceit but now I put everything out in the open for the world to see. I don't have any secrets to hide. I have lost too much in my life because of lying and secrets. I want to be free of that and find love and happiness.  Which if you refer back to my earliest post you know that I know that happiness is found within ones self.  But I also think that you can find happiness in another person. One that makes you better than you are and inspires you to do more than you have before.  That is the type of love I want.

Do yourself a favor, when you meet someone new that you are interested in, be yourself, your true self.  Don't embellish, make up stuff to make yourself look better.  Just be who you are.  Be sincere and genuine.  I honestly think you will be much better off for it.  Secrets and lies cost so much and will damage your relationship way faster than anything else.  Be honest with yourself and the other person.  Earn their trust and respect. Be their friend and confidant and trust me everything else will fall into place.

Try and remember that no secret is ever free, not now not ever!

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Friday, October 19, 2012

Who can you depend upon?

I got to thinking this morning about how many people I can really count upon and the result was surprisingly smaller than I had thought.  For years I have been the one that people turn too when they need help or a hand to get them out of a situation.  However when I look back at how many people have actually been around to help me when I needed a helping hand, it was less than a handful.  Now to me this is remarkable because I would have thought that there would have been a lot more people. Especially when you consider the amount of people I have helped in my past, and how many people still come to me when they need money or things to help them get by. Just the other day I got a call from a friend that still lives in Atlanta who asked me if I would be able to give him $50.00 for a boost card to get his cell turned back on.  Another, friend asked me over the past summer needed to have a cell phone, so I sent him my old Samsung Admire phone and put it on my Metro account so that he could have service.  You know he only had the phone for a week before he lost it. Then he expected me to buy him a new one, but I honestly didn't have the money for that.  What I did do however was when he got a new phone I did allow him to put it on my bill.  Then on July 20, 2012 he disappeared, never heard from him again.   Even my parents have let me down, when I left Atlanta they told me I could come stay with them till I was on my feet again.  Well, here we are 8 months later and because my step-brother is coming down, I had to move out. I wasn't prepared didn't have the money put up for the move and just by chance found someone that was willing to take a chance on me and let me use their place.

It always surprises me when someone agrees to something that you need then backs out at the last minute.  Like it wasn't a big deal in the first place.  Just this past week I had asked my dad if he would drive me down to Ft. Lauderdale to get a king size bed and box spring with rails from a friend of mine.  He said he would as long as I paid for the gas.  Now, my friend has pillows, comforters and sheets for the bed as well as pots and pans that he wanted to give to me.  I knew that for the most part I could fit the bed and stuff in the truck along with all the other stuff.  But he also has a dresser and mirror and a sofa that he needs to get rid of too, he told me I could have all of the stuff, considering that I was living in a place that has no furniture.  I thought this was a great opportunity. It shouldn't cost me more than $50.00 to and from there to get the first load of stuff. Of course I would have to make a second trip down to get the rest of the stuff that he wants to give me like the dresser mirror and sofa.  I thought it was a great opportunity. My father looked at the pictures I sent him of the stuff and told me that he thought I should look on craigslist for something I could buy locally, and save myself some money. Unfortunately, he doesn't stop to realize that I will still need to pay for the stuff and my friend was giving it too me for free.  Either way I would still have to put gas in my father's truck to get the stuff whether it was bought on craigslist or if I drove to Ft. Lauderdale to get it.  So where am I saving money. I honestly think in the long run driving down there would be the best thing and get the bed. At least I wouldn't be sleeping on the floor anymore.

Why do people do that? Why do they say what they think you want to hear? Then back out at the last possible minute?  Is it because they think that by telling you at the onset that they will do something will make you worry less?  I am not sure what the real answer to this is, but I would rather someone be upfront with me and tell me that they don't want to do something then to tell me sure I will do it and then back out.  Wouldn't you?  Life is too short folks to lie to others, there is no good reason whatsoever that I can see to hold back the truth from anyone. Sure it might hurt them initially but they will get over it and see that you were only trying to look out for them.  I am a firm believer in trying to help out others, and do the right thing, so why not be straight with me from the get go?  Life is hard enough without having false hopes.

False hopes is what telling someone you are going to do something for them and then backing out at the last minute creates.  It honestly isn't fair to the other person that has been counting on you.  How many times have you been the anchor or shoulder that others have leaned upon?  If you are like me a lot! But here is the thing when push comes to shove it is only you who is going to do for you.  Really there is no one that you can totally always rely upon.  It is sad but true, when I was down and out on the streets of Atlanta there was no one that I could even call because even my so called best friends wouldn't take my calls because they felt bad because there was nothing they could do to help my situation.  But, the truth of the matter was, I wasn't looking for them to help me out of my situation, I just wanted an ear or shoulder to cry on. To brainstorm with to come up with workable solutions to my dilemma. See, I realized that I got myself into the situation that I was in and it was my job and duty to see myself clear of it. I wasn't looking for handouts, and I wasn't looking for someone to get me out of my own mess.  It would have been nice to just have someone there I could pour out my heart too, to listen to me. That alone would have been enough.  But, even that wasn't too be found.

I have a very close circle of really good friends and they are the ones I know that I can count on.  Probably out of the circle there are only 3 that I would ever ask to borrow money from, but the rest have been there for me to hear my cries, pleas and just listen.  That are what friends are supposed to do for one another to listen. They aren't there to bail you out, if they can and offer that is great and wonderful, but it really isn't their responsibility to clean up your mess for you.  Only you can do that for yourself.  But there has to be a balance somewhere, there has to be some give and take in a friendship as well as a relationship.  You can't be expected to do it all alone.  Unless that is the way you have it all planned out.  See, when I got sick with cancer I had a group of friends that I hung with and all of them went through it with me. They were there all the way through, came and seen me in the hospital, held my hand when I was sick and all of that. Those are the people that I count as my support network. They are the few that I know if I call them today they will listen without judging me, as to what my problem and situation is. They will listen, offer words of advice, encouragement, but it is up too me to use that advice and profit from it.  On a few occasions I have had to borrow money from some friends, and they were there for me. But times are different now, the economy is harder, and people don't have the extra like they used to.  My friend Daniel for instance, I called him while I was on the street in Atlanta, just to talk to him, to listen and have him listen to me and my situation. Which he did.  He said to me that he wished he could help, but he was financially strapped himself.  Let me tell you this, I wasn't asking him for help.  I had just needed to hear a friendly voice and have someone listen to me.  But he felt bad because he wasn't in a place to help me.  That is okay, because I didn't need it.  I just needed him and his support. Which I got.

As far as all these others, I am tired and I have been there for everyone for so long. I have helped so many people in my life, that it is now my turn.  I want to find someone that I can care about and depend on. Someone that puts my needs and desires first. Someone that I can call on to help me out when I am stressed or trapped.  I can't help anyone else like I used to, and I honestly don't want to anymore.  I was the one that all those people in Atlanta and some few here in Florida came too each month to help them out of a bind they were in financially or emotionally and I gave of myself, but NO MORE.  I have to once start thinking about myself and putting myself and my health needs above that of others.  It is the only way that I am going to survive right now. Everyone else is going t have to learn to fend for themselves.  You know who you are. The ones that hit me up every month wondering if there isn't some little help I can give you.  The answer is I am in a place and situation where I cannot even help myself, so no boo as much as I love and care about you, I can't help you right now.

But, it is sad that out of all the people I have helped to support, given a place to stay and food to eat can't even help me out. Can't pick up the phone and call me and tell me that everything is going to be okay.  I am not sure I even have one friend that I can count on at this moment who would be able to honestly say, I got your back. Because I don't think anyone actually does.  Even my parents I can't count on them for help, I was helping them, I was buying groceries each month and then I was also paying the electric or cable bill to help them get caught back up.  But when I need help or want them to do something for me, they either say yes they will and back out at the last minute or they just don't answer.  That isn't right. But honey it is a fact of life, that no one has your own best interest at heart but you.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B